Hemp, the environment and sustainability: Part 1
Hemp has a long and illustrious history across the globe, with the first recorded use of hemp dating back over 10,000 years when archeologists found hemp rope in pottery in what is modern day Taiwan. Since then, hemp has played an integral part in a variety of industrial and commercial industries including textiles and fibres, commercial and building materials, as well as bio-fuels and plastics.
In this two part series, we will discuss the various industrial and commercial uses of hemp, how hemp products can replace their more harmful counterparts, and how hemp can help to create a sustainable future and has the potential to save the environment.
The uses of hemp
As mentioned before, hemp has long been used in things like textiles, fibres and paper due to its superiorly high fibre content, and durability. Some historians have even gone so far as crediting hemp for helping Columbus discover the New World as it was the only material at the time that could withstand the harsh ocean conditions.
However, in modern times and with the help of new technological discoveries, hemp now has potential applications in almost every part of our lives, from our clothes, to our houses, to our cars and the fuels they use.
One of the most exciting industrial applications of hemp can be found in the automotive industry, where environmentally friendly and biodegradable hemp fibres are starting to replace certain glass fibre and steel parts. Not only is hemp safer and more sustainable when compared to glass fibre and metals, but in both interior and exterior automotive parts, hemp is also lighter, stronger and more durable, nor will it rust like its metal counter parts.
Hemp also has the ability to replace oil-based plastics, synthetics and fuels, creating a far more sustainable and environmentally friendly product. With hemp-based bioplastics being 100% biodegradable and the hemp crops themselves actually absorbing CO2, these are vastly preferential to petrochemical plastics which create tremendous amounts of CO2 emissions and toxic waste. Hemp-based bioplastics are also many times stronger than oil-based plastics, allowing for a wider application and a higher level of end-product durability.
Hemp also has applications in the production of bio-fuels, being 86% greener than gasoline. What’s even better is that it can be used directly in existing cars, trucks and other vehicles without the need for any type of converter or special equipment. And, with the development of hemp nano-materials, hemp even becomes suitable for use in batteries and accumulators, eliminating the need for dangerous and toxic chemicals and acids.
Probably the longest and most popular uses of hemp has been in the textile and paper industries. The advantages of hemp fiber over crops like cotton and wood are its length, strength, durability, elasticity, and ability to withstand high temperatures without degeneration. In addition, hemp is also mould, insect, rot and UV-light resistant, making it an ideal raw material for both paper and textiles.
Today there are several construction materials available on the market, with the most common probably being acoustic and thermal insulation products. In addition, hemp fiber pressed into building blocks have also been introduced in the first, prototype hemp houses. What’s more is that these materials also have anti-fungal properties while being fully recyclable, making for a healthy, clean and sustainable living environment.
The uses and applications of hemp is too numerous to list here, with hemp having the ability to impact almost every aspect of our modern lives. As a sustainable, environmentally friendly and CO2 negative crop, hemp has the potential to not only replace many of the often harmful and dangerous materials most products are manufactured from today, but it can actually improve and correct the damage that these caused to our world and environment.
In the next part we will look at how hemp has the potential to save the planet and our futures along with it.